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Days after the Canadian Health Minister warned citizens to prepare for a possible COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec has reported its first presumptive case of the virus.
Currently, of Canada’s 13 reported cases of COVID-19, six of them, including the recent case in Quebec, are linked to Iran. As of February 23, Iran has been added to the Government of Canada’s Travel and Tourism advisories for nations impacted by the coronavirus. Iran is currently listed as a Level 2 nation, with travellers being warned of an outbreak in the region and to take special precautions for travel.
Per Global News, Professor of Public Health Ashleigh Tuite says the Iranian government’s figures are not to be trusted due to the presence of the disease in Canada originating in Iran.
“Compared to other countries, Canada has relatively low connectivity with Iran via air travel,” she said.
“[The] fact that we’re seeing cases in Canada linked to Iran suggests that the outbreak in Iran is much larger than has been officially reported. It’s likely been circulating in the country for a while.”
According to BBC News, Iranian whistleblowers have reported the death toll from coronavirus at 210–meanwhile the Government of Iran is only reporting 34, and denying a widespread coverup of infections and deaths. The nation currently has the highest mortality rate for the virus anywhere in the world, including China, which has been on a widespread quarantine since December of 2019.
On February 25, Iran’s Minister of Health appeared on national television to dispel public concerns about the coronavirus. Many noted he appeared to look ill. It was confirmed shortly after that he had been infected with COVID-19.
Multiple Iranian politicians, including Iranian Vice-President of Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar, have also been confirmed as having infections. The Iranian parliament has been indefinitely suspended as a result.